So far: Wendy works her way through more memories.
After Susan left, I looked at the clock in the kitchen. One in the morning. I felt exhausted clear through my bones. I wasn’t used to being around so many people. Maybe I would sleep well tonight.
The house was quiet, the fire only a dim glow in the hearth, the dining room table cleared but still spattered, the smashed mum bouquet not quite recovered from the final flight of the turkey. I looked out the windows and saw the trees swaying in the night wind.
I heard Cloud screeching her I-want-something sound.
She was standing in front of the master bedroom door, scratching, trying to get in. Maybe she was right — it was time to sleep back in my own bed, Richard’s and my bed. On this cold and windy night.
I pushed the door open and Cloud raced across the room and jumped up onto the bed. She stretched her whole body out until she looked like a fish, slithering through the waves of the covers.
I walked over to Richard’s dresser and took out one of his old T-shirts. Lone Star Beer, it said on the front. It was covered with different colored stains. Richard often wore it when he painted. I shucked off my clothes and pulled it on.
The morning before Richard died I had pulled the covers up on the bed. They were as I had left them. I had not changed the bed sheets since Richard had died, nor had I slept in the bed since then.
Over the bed was the first painting that Richard had done specifically for me. You might think it was a woman sleeping. There were curves and swirls in the small piece that looked like a woman’s shoulder, but then also resembled a smooth white tree branch curving down to water.
When he gave it to me, he said, “I painted you.”
“But I wasn’t even there.”
“The way I see you in my mind.”
• • •
When I crawled into our bed, I smelled Richard: his musky rich scent, his peppery sweat, his earth smell. I nuzzled my head into his pillow and breathed until I couldn’t smell anything anymore. The scent was in me.
Thanksgiving was over. I trickled tears until I fell asleep.
• • •
Richard’s bed in his loft faced east and stood in the middle of the far end. It was majestically draped in a big old Hudson blanket. He had hung a wire with curtains that could be pulled to cut it off from the rest of the space.
A small wooden bookshelf stood at one side of the bed, overflowing with reading material, Art Forums, books piled up in crooked piles, leaning against each other for support.
He had gone to shut off the lights in the rest of the space and so I was left alone. I crept over to his bookshelf to check out his library. Lots of science fiction, lots of mysteries, a couple books on quantum mechanics. But what made my heart lift up was the fact that about half the books were by women: Octavia Butler, Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith, Jane Smiley, Edna O’Brien … This was a man who liked women.
Quickly, I got back on the bed and stretched out on the top of the covers with all my clothes on and waited for him to come to me.
Tomorrow: Chapter 35 continues.